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The chamber was and was not what I expected. Deep-cushioned oak chairs had been arranged in a massive circle in the heart of the room—enough for all the High Lords and their delegates. Some, I realized, had been shaped to accommodate wings.

It seemed it was not unusual. For clustered around a beautiful, slender male who I immediately remembered from Under the Mountain were winged Fae. If the Illyrians had batlike wings, these … they were like birds.

The Peregryns are distantly related to Drakon’s Seraphim people and provide Thesan with a small aerial legion, Rhys said to me of the muscular, golden-armored males and females gathered. The male on his left is his captain and lover. Indeed, the handsome male stood just a tad closer to his High Lord, one hand on the fine sword at his side. No mating bond yet, Rhys went on, but I think Thesan didn’t dare acknowledge it while Amarantha reigned. She delighted in ripping out their feathers—one by one. She made a dress out of them once.

I tried not to wince as we stepped onto the polished marble floor, the stone warmed with the sun streaming through the open archways. The others had looked toward us, some murmuring at the sight of Rhys’s wings, but my attention went to the true gem of the chamber: the reflection pool.

Rather than a table occupying the space between that circle of chairs, a shallow, circular reflection pool was carved into the floor itself. Its dark water was laden with pink and gold water lilies, the pads broad and flat as a male’s hand, and beneath them pumpkin-and-ivory fish lazily swam about.

This, I admitted to Rhys, I might need to have.

A wry pulse of humor down the bond. I’ll make a note of it for your birthday.

More wisteria twined about the pillars flanking the space, and along the tables set against the few walls, bunches of wine-colored peonies unfurled their silken layers. Between the vases, platters and baskets of food had been laid—small pastries, cured meats, and garlands of fruit beckoned before sweating pewter ewers of some refreshment.

Then there were the three High Lords themselves.

We were not the only ones to have dressed well.

Rhys and I halted halfway through the space.

I knew them all—remembered them from those months Under the Mountain. Rhys had taught me their histories while we’d trained. I wondered if they sensed their power within me as their attention slid between us.

Thesan glided forward, his embroidered, exquisite shoes silent on the floor. His tunic was tight-fitting through his slender chest, but flowing pants—much like those Amren favored—whispered with movement as he approached. His brown skin and hair were kissed with gold, as if the sunrise had permanently gilded them, but his upswept eyes, the rich brown of freshly tilled fields, were his loveliest feature. He paused a few feet away, taking in Rhys and me, our entourage. The wings that Rhys kept folded behind him.

“Welcome,” Thesan said, his voice as deep and rich as those eyes. His lover monitored our every breath from a few feet behind, no doubt realizing our own companions were doing the same behind us. “Or,” Thesan mused, “since you’ve called this meeting, perhaps you should be doing the welcoming?”

A faint smile ghosted Rhys’s perfect face, shadows twining between the strands of his hair. He’d loosened the damper on his power—just a bit. They all had. “I may have requested the meeting, Thesan, but you were the one gracious enough to offer up your beautiful residence.”

Thesan gave a nod of thanks, perhaps deeming it impolite to inquire about Rhysand’s newly revealed wings, then turned to me.

We stared at each other while my companions bowed behind me. As a High Lord’s wife should have done with them.

Yet I simply stood. And stared.

Rhys did not interfere—not at this first test.

Dawn—the gift of healing. It was his gift that had allowed me to save Rhysand’s life. That had sent me to the Suriel, that day I had learned the truth that would alter my eternity.

I offered Thesan a restrained smile. “Your home is lovely.”

But Thesan’s attention had gone to the tattoo. I knew he realized it the moment he noticed the ink covered the wrong hand. Then the crown atop my head. His brows flicked up.

Rhys only shrugged.

The other two High Lords had approached now.

“Kallias,” Rhys said to the white-haired one, whose skin was so pale it looked frozen. Even his crushing blue eyes seemed like chips hewn from a glacier as he studied Rhys’s wings and seemed to instantly dismiss them. He wore a jacket of royal blue embroidered with silver thread, its collar and sleeves dusted with white rabbit fur. I would have thought it too warm for the mild day, especially the fur-lined, knee-high brown boots, but given the utter iciness of his expression, perhaps his blood ran frozen. A trio of similarly colored High Fae remained in their seats, one of them a stunning young female who looked right at Mor—and grinned.

Mor returned the beam, hopping from one foot to another as Kallias opened his mouth—

And then my friend squealed.


Both females hurtled for each other, and Mor’s squeal had turned to a quiet sob as she flung her arms around the slender stranger and hugged her tight. The female’s own arms were shaking as she gripped Mor.

Then they were laughing and crying and dancing around each other, pausing to study each other’s faces, to wipe away tears, and then embracing again.

“You look the same,” the stranger was saying, beaming from ear to ear. “I think that’s the same dress I saw you in—”

“You look the same! Wearing fur in the middle of summer—how utterly typical—”

“You brought the usual suspects, it seems—”

“Thankfully, the company has been improved by some new arrivals—” Mor waved me over. It had been ages since I’d seen her shining so brightly. “Viviane, meet Feyre. Feyre, meet Viviane—Kallias’s wife.”

I glanced at Thesan and Kallias, the latter of whom watched his wife and Mor with raised brows. “I tried to suggest she stay at home,” Kallias said drily, “but she threatened to freeze my balls off.”

Rhys let out a dark chuckle. “Sounds familiar.”

I threw him a glare over a sparkling shoulder—just in time to see the smirk fade from Kallias’s face as he truly took in Rhys. Not just the wings this time. My mate’s own amusement dimmed, some thread of tension going taut between him and Kallias—

But I’d reached Mor and Viviane, and wiped the curiosity from my face as I shook the female’s hand, surprised to find it warm.

Her silver hair glittered in the sun like fresh snow. “Wife,” Viviane said, clicking her tongue. “You know, it still sounds strange to me. Every time someone says it, I keep looking over my shoulder as if it’ll be someone else.”

Kallias said to none of us in particular, from where he remained facing Rhys, stiff-backed, “I have yet to decide if I find it insulting. Since she says it every day.”

Viviane stuck out her tongue at him.

But Mor gripped her shoulder and squeezed. “It’s about time.”

A blush stained Viviane’s pale face. “Yes, well—everything was different after Under the Mountain.” Her sapphire eyes slid to mine and she bowed her head. “Thank you—for returning my mate to me.”

“Mates?” Mor fizzed, glancing between them. “Married and mates?”

“You two do realize that this is a serious meeting,” Rhys said.

“And that the fish in the pool are very sensitive to high-pitched sounds,” Kallias added.

Viviane gave them both a vulgar gesture that made me instantly like her.

Rhys looked to Kallias with what I assumed was some sort of long-suffering male expression. But the High Lord did not return it.

He only stared at Rhys, amusement again gone—that coldness settling in across his face.

There had been … tension with the Winter Court, Mor had explained when they’d rescued Lucien and me on the ice. A lingering anger over something that had occurred Under the Mountain—

But the third High Lord had at last approached from across the pool.

My father had once bought and traded a gold and lapis lazuli pendant that hailed from the ruins of an arid southeastern kingdom, where the Fae had ruled as gods amid swaying date palms and sand-swept palaces. I’d been mesmerized by the colors, the artistry, but more interested in the shipment of myrrh and figs that had come with it—a few of the latter my father had snuck to me while I loitered in his office. Even now, I could still taste their sweetness on my tongue, still smell that earthy scent, and I couldn’t quite explain why, but … I remembered that ancient necklace and those exquisite delicacies as he prowled toward us.

His clothes had been formed from a single bolt of white fabric—not a robe, not a dress, but rather something in between, pleated and draped over his muscular body. A golden cuff of an upright serpent encircled one powerful bicep, offsetting his near-glowing dark skin, and a radiant crown of golden spikes—the rays of the sun, I realized—glistened atop his onyx hair.

The sun personified. Powerful, lazy with grace, capable of kindness and wrath. Nearly as beautiful as Rhysand. And somehow—somehow colder than Kallias.

His High Fae entourage was almost as large as ours, clad in similar robes of varying rich dyes—cobalt and crimson and amethyst—some with expertly kohl-lined eyes, all of them fit and gleaming with health.

But perhaps the physical power of them—of him was the sleight of hand.

For Helion’s other title was Spell-Cleaver, and his one thousand libraries were rumored to contain the knowledge of the world. Perhaps all that knowledge had made him too aware, too cold behind those bright eyes.

Or perhaps that had come after Amarantha had looted some of those libraries for herself. I wondered if he’d reclaimed what she’d taken—or if he mourned what she’d burned.

Even Mor and Viviane halted their reunion as Helion stopped a wise distance away.

It was his power that had gotten my friends out of Hybern. His power that made me glow whenever Rhys and I were tangled in each other and every heartbeat ached with mirth.

Helion jerked his square chin to Rhys, the only one of them, it seemed, not surprised by my mate’s wings. But his eyes—a striking amber—fell on me.

“Does Tamlin know what she is?”

His voice was indeed colder than Kallias’s. And the question—so carefully worded.

Rhys drawled, “If you mean beautiful and clever, then yes—I think he does.”

Helion leveled a flat look at him. “Does he know she is your mate—and High Lady?”

“High Lady?” Viviane squeaked, but Mor shushed her, drawing her away to whisper.

Thesan and Kallias took me in. Slowly.

Cassian and Azriel casually slid closer, no more than a night breeze.

“If he arrives,” Rhys said smoothly, “I suppose we’ll find out.”

Helion let out a dark laugh. Dangerous—he was utterly lethal, this High Lord kissed by the sun. “I always liked you, Rhysand.”

Thesan stepped forward, ever the good host. For that laugh indeed promised violence. His lover and the other Peregryns seemed to shift into defensive positions—either to guard their High Lord or simply to remind us that we were guests in their home.

But Helion’s attention snagged on Nesta.


She only stared right back at him. Unruffled, unimpressed.

“Who is your guest?” the High Lord of Day asked a bit too quietly for my liking.

Cassian revealed nothing—not even a glimmer that he knew Nesta. But he didn’t move an inch from his casual defensive position. Neither did Azriel.

“She is my sister, and our emissary to the human lands,” I said at last to him, stepping to her side. “And she will tell her story when the others are here.”

“She is Fae.”

“No shit,” Viviane muttered under her breath, and Mor’s snort was cut off as Kallias raised his brows at them. Helion ignored them.

“Who Made her?” Thesan asked politely, angling his head.

Nesta surveyed Thesan. Then Helion. Then Kallias.

“Hybern did,” she said simply. Not a flicker of fear in her eyes, in her upraised chin.

Stunned silence.

But I’d had enough of my sister being ogled. I linked elbows with her, heading toward the low-backed chairs that I assumed were for us. “They threw her in the Cauldron,” I said. “Along with my other sister, Elain.” I sat, placing Nesta beside me, and gazed at the three assembled High Lords without an inch of manners or niceness or flattery. “After the High Priestess Ianthe and Tamlin sold out Prythian and my family to them.”

Nesta nodded her silent confirmation.

Helion’s eyes blazed like a forge. “That is a heavy accusation to make—especially of your former lover.”

“It is no accusation,” I said, folding my hands in my lap. “We were all there. And now we’re going to do something about it.”

Pride flickered down the bond.

And then Viviane muttered to Kallias, jabbing him in the ribs, “Why can’t I be High Lady as well?”

The others arrived late.

We took our seats around the reflection pool, Thesan’s impeccably mannered attendants bringing us plates of food and goblets of exotic juices from the tables against the wall. Conversation halted and flowed, Mor and Viviane sitting next to each other to catch up on what seemed like fifty years’ worth of gossip.

Viviane had not been Under the Mountain. As her childhood friend, Kallias had been protective of her to a fault over the years—had placed the sharp-minded female on border duty for decades to avoid the scheming of his court. He didn’t let her near Amarantha, either. Didn’t let anyone get a whiff of what he felt for his white-haired friend, who had no clue—not one—that he had loved her his entire life. And in those last moments, when his power had been ripped from him by that spell … Kallias had flung out the remnants to warn her. To tell Viviane he loved her. And then he begged her to protect their people.

So she had.

As Mor and my friends had protected Velaris, Viviane had veiled and guarded the small city under her watch, offering safe harbor to those who made it.

Never forgetting the High Lord and friend trapped Under the Mountain, never ceasing her hunt for finding a way to free him. Especially while Amarantha unleashed her horrors upon his court to break them, punish them. Yet Viviane held them together. And through that reign of terror—during all those years—she realized what Kallias was to her, what she felt for him in return.

The day he’d returned home, he’d winnowed right to her.

She’d kissed him before he could speak a word. He’d then knelt down and asked her to be his wife.

They went an hour later to a temple and swore their vows. And that night—during the you-know, Viviane grinned at Mor—the mating bond at last snapped into place.

The story occupied our time while we waited, since Mor wanted details. Lots of them. Ones that pushed the boundaries of propriety and left Thesan choking on his elderberry wine. But Kallias smiled at his wife and mate, warm and bright enough that despite his icy coloring, he should have been the High Lord of Day.

Not the sharp-tongued, brutal Helion, who watched my sister and me like an eagle. A great, golden eagle—with very sharp talons.

I wondered what his beast form was; if he grew wings like Rhysand. And claws.

If Thesan did, too—white wings like the watchful Peregryns who kept silent, his own fierce-eyed lover not uttering a word to anyone. Perhaps the High Lords of the Solar Courts all possessed wings beneath their skin, a gift from the skies that their courts claimed ownership of.

It was an hour before Thesan announced, “Tarquin is here.”

My mouth went dry. An uncomfortable silence spread.

“Heard about the blood rubies.” Helion smirked at Rhys, toying with the golden cuff on his bicep. “That is a story I want you to tell.”

Rhys waved an idle hand. “All in good time.” Prick, he said to me with a wink.

But then Tarquin cleared the top step into the chamber, Varian and Cresseida flanking him.

Varian glanced among us for someone who was not there—and glowered when he beheld Cassian, seated to Nesta’s left. Cassian just gave him a cocky grin.

I wrecked one building, Cassian had said once of his last visit to the Summer Court. Where he was now banned. Apparently, even assisting them in battle hadn’t lifted it.

Tarquin ignored Rhysand and me—ignored all of us, Rhys’s wings included—as he made vague apologies for the tardiness, blaming it on the attack. Possibly true. Or he’d been deciding until the last minute whether to come, despite his acceptance of the invitation.

He and Helion were nearly as tense, and only Thesan seemed to be on decent terms with him. Neutral indeed. Kallias had become even colder—distant.

But the introductions were done, and then …

An attendant whispered to Thesan that Beron and all of his sons had arrived. The smile instantly vanished from Mor’s mouth, her eyes.

From my own as well.

The violence simmering off my friends was enough to boil the pool at our toes as the High Lord of Autumn filed through the archway, his sons in rank behind him, his wife—Lucien’s mother—at his side. Her russet eyes scanned the room, as if looking for that missing son. They settled instead on Helion, who gave her a mocking incline of his dark head. She quickly averted her gaze.

She had saved my life once—Under the Mountain. In exchange for my sparing Lucien’s.

Did she wonder where her lost son was now? Had she heard the rumors I’d crafted, the lies I’d spun? I couldn’t tell her that Lucien currently hunted the continent, dodging armies, for an enchanted queen. To find a scrap of salvation.

Beron—slender-faced and brown-haired—didn’t bother to look anywhere but at the High Lords assembled. But his remaining sons sneered at us. Sneered enough that the Peregryns ruffled their feathers. Even Varian flashed his teeth in warning at the leer Cresseida earned from one of them. Their father didn’t bother to check them.

But Eris did.

A step behind his father, Eris murmured, “Enough,” and his younger brothers fell into line. All three of them.

Whether Beron noticed or cared, he did not let on. No, he merely stopped halfway across the room, hands folded before him, and scowled—as if we were a pack of mongrels.

Beron, the oldest among us. The most awful.

Rhys smoothly greeted him, though his power was a dark mountain shuddering beneath us, “It’s no surprise that you’re tardy, given that your own sons were too slow to catch my mate. I suppose it runs in the family.”

Beron’s lips curled slightly as he looked to me, my crown. “Mate—and High Lady.”

I leveled a flat, bored stare at him. Turned it on his hateful sons. On—Eris.

Eris only smiled at me, amused and aloof. Would he wear that mask when he ended his father’s life and stole his throne?

Cassian was watching the would-be High Lord like a hawk studying his next meal. Eris deigned a glance at the Illyrian general and inclined his head in invitation, subtly patting his stomach. Ready for round two.

Then Eris’s attention shifted to Mor, sweeping over her with a disdain that made me see red. Mor only stared blankly at him. Bored.

Even Viviane was biting her lip. So she knew of what had been done to Mor—what Eris’s presence would trigger.

Unaware of the meeting that had already occurred, the unholy alliance struck. Azriel was so still I wasn’t sure he was breathing. Whether Mor noticed, whether she knew that though she’d tried to move past the bargain we’d made, the guilt of it still haunted Azriel, she didn’t let on.

They sat—filling in the final seats.

Not one empty chair left.

It said enough about Tamlin’s plans.

I tried not to sag in my chair as the attendants took care of the Autumn Court, as we all settled.

Thesan, as host, began. “Rhysand, you have called this meeting. Pushed us to gather sooner than we intended. Now would be the time to explain what is so urgent.”

Rhys blinked—slowly. “Surely the invading armies landing on our shores explain enough.”

“So you have called us to do what, exactly?” Helion challenged, bracing his forearms on his muscled, gleaming thighs. “Raise a unified army?”

“Among other things,” Rhys said mildly. “We—”

It was almost the same—the entrance.

Almost the same as that night in my family’s old cottage, when the door had shattered and a beast had charged in with the freezing cold and roared at us.

He did not bother with the landing balcony, or the escorts. He did not have an entourage.

Like a crack of lightning, vicious as a spring storm, he winnowed into the chamber itself.

And my blood went colder than Kallias’s ice as Tamlin appeared, and smiled like a wolf.

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